Let’s talk tea tags — you know, the little pieces of paper that hang from the edge of your teacup as you enjoy your beverage. There are some really cool ones out there, and all too often they end up being thrown out, never to live up to their full creative potential. That stops today!
Today’s teapot envelope art tutorial celebrates the world’s favorite beverage with a bold illustration, hanging tea tags, and clever address placement. While I love loose leaf tea best, I appreciate tea bags because their tags can be really pretty. Incorporate the tags into mail art, and your recipient will get a peek into your pantry!
1. Collect Tea Tags
To create this teapot envelope art, start by collecting 3-4 tea tags. Every time you go to have a cup of tea, remember to conserve the tag. Or, if you’re not a tea drinker, ask a friend or family member to save tags for you.
Once your tea tag collection is complete, find a blue A7 envelope. I recommend “Adriatic” from Cards and Pockets (affiliate link).
2. Make a Pencil Draft
Now, use a white mechanical pencil to draw a large circle on the center/right portion of your envelope. The bottom of the circle should be closer to the bottom of the envelope than the top (1). Then, add two curvy lines sprouting from the left side of the circle (2). Join those two curvy lines together to make a spout (3). Then, draw a wide “U” shape at the top of the teapot, inside the circle (4).
Now, add a lip to the “U”. To do this, draw two small, equal-sized vertical lines stemming up from either end of the “U” (where the “U” meets the circle). Then, draw another “U” line connecting the ends of the vertical lines that you just drew. This new “U” line should run parallel to the first one (5). Next, erase the top of the teapot above the “U” lines. Replace the top with a protruding bump, then draw two curved horizontal lines on either side of that bump to visually imply the teapot rim’s presence (6).
Then, draw a horizontal line with ends that slightly curve up in the middle of the bump. Draw a cylinder coming out of that horizontal line. The cylinder should get wider at the top (7). Finish up by drawing two squiggly lines coming out of the teapot’s spout to represent steam. Next, draw a few contour lines throughout the piece. You’ll notice that I added a contour line to the spout and the handle, then I added a line parallel to the base to form a bottom for the teapot (8).
3. Add Color
Once you have drawn the sketch of the teapot, you can start painting around the teapot. You can paint with watercolor if you want to, but I have been enjoying using McCaffery’s colored inks. I chose to paint with McCaffery’s “Green” for this teapot envelope art project.
McCaffery’s inks are supposed to be used for calligraphy, but when you paint with them, the results are lovely. It’s almost like you’re staining the paper rather than painting on it, and if you sprinkle salt in the wet ink, you’ll end up with a beautiful texture when the ink dries.
If you opt to sprinkle salt on the piece, be sure to wipe the salt off once the ink is completely dry. Check out the intriguing pattern that the salt crystals create!
4. Apply Tea Tags
Once the ink or watercolor paint is dry, use white drawing ink, white watercolor, or watered-down white calligraphy ink to add some color to the steam. Your goal is just to achieve a relatively transparent white color, which mimics the effect of real-life steam.
Next, use one of your tea tags as a template to create a tea tag shape from a piece of yellow card stock.
Write your recipient’s name and address on the tag. Tea tags are pretty small, so you’ll probably need to use your regular print handwriting or a hand-lettering style like Sans Serif.
Use your favorite strong glue to secure your tea tags to your teapot. Don’t forget to put the addressed tag in the front!
Don’t forget to add lines extending from the lid of the teapot to the tops of the tea tags to suggest that the tags are hanging by strings! You can use a regular black pen to add some shadows to the tags as well. Next, you can use any calligraphy style you like to add a return address in the steam. I used Turquoise ink and Kaitlin Style calligraphy to write the return address pictured below.
If your envelope art has any protruding parts, be sure to add extra postage! My “Yogi” tea tag has a staple that sticks out a bit, so I added sufficient postage. If there are no staples or other parts that could give the postal machine some grief, you will be fine with a standard postage stamp.
I thought it would be nice to provide a short little tutorial to enjoy over the weekend, so I hope that you like this envelope art and that you are inspired to create an envelope like this, too! Have a wonderfully creative weekend; you deserve it!